Engaging the top team in crisis preparedness

Crisis-Management-Insights-Survey-2015-011.pngChief executives, managing directors and other senior business leaders are failing to engage fully in crisis preparedness and risk undermining their organisation’s ability to manage crises, according to Steelhenge and Regester Larkin’s latest crisis management survey.

The survey of 170 large companies from 27 countries revealed that big business understands the need to prepare for a crisis, with 86 per cent of respondents owning a crisis management plan, 59 per cent carrying out crisis training and 68 per cent conducting crisis exercises at least annually. It is clear that crisis preparedness is high on the agenda. Continue reading

Joining the crisis dots – How simulation exercising can create a culture of crisis sensitivity

By Dominic Cockram

As a crisis dotscrisis management professional, I have worked with many different crisis teams over the years. What has become apparent is that, in the majority of cases, those conducting the operational response to a crisis (and by that I mean at both the bronze/operational and silver/tactical levels) have little understanding of the strategic drivers, priorities and concerns, and potential challenges of the executive or ‘gold’ level.

This lack of understanding can fail to give those protecting the organisation’s license to operate what they really need to fulfil their role. Resulting in delayed escalation, incorrect assumptions and the transmission of skewed information to the top. Continue reading

Launch of BS 11200 – the new British Standard for Crisis Management

bs11200In May this year, the Cabinet Office and BSI published BS 11200 – the new British Standard for Crisis Management – Guidance and Good Practice.  Its official launch will be on 18th September in London.

Many would say the new Standard is long overdue; others that crisis management is already covered by ISO 22301, the International Standard for Business Continuity Management Systems.  However, whatever your view, no one can demur from the fact that BS 11200 covers the subject in far more depth and detail than any other Standard hitherto.

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When the Heat is On – Social Media Fails

twitterbirdThe advent of social media has radically altered the context in which the reputation of an organisation is managed. Social media can be friend and foe. On the one hand, social media platforms are immensely powerful channels to reach stakeholders with your planned message but on the other, the same characteristics that enable this, namely speed of communication, prevalence and pervasiveness, can also precipitate and catapult an organisation into crisis.

The way that events transpire online and, more specifically, on social media platforms are now intimately linked to how organisations fare once times get tough. With 72% of all Internet users active on social media and over 500 million users on Twitter alone businesses can no longer afford to endure the potential for either reputational or financial damages that come hand in hand with todays social media crisis if poorly managed.

So, in the spirit of learning from the mistakes of others, we outline three top social media crises of last year and examine the lessons we can learn from them.

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Situational Awareness – supporting the CEO’s critical decision-making in a crisis

By Dominic Cockram

Situational awarenessThis blog is the second in a series that looks at the challenges of managing information in a crisis and how to ensure the top team gets the information it needs. The first looked at “Managing the Upward Flow of Information in a Crisis – What Matters Most?” Here managing information to build situational awareness is under the spotlight – how to pull together that cohesive and informative picture that gives the boss just what he needs and no more.

It is a fact that almost all crisis teams find information management one of the greatest challenges in responding to an incident. Why does this matter? It matters because effective information management is the bedrock that allows the critical decision-making by the strategic crisis management team that will lead an organisation out of a crisis.

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Managing the upward flow of information in a crisis – what matters most?

By Dominic Cockram

The BriefHaving worked over the last few months with some of the larger organisations in the world, both in the UK and internationally, it has been fascinating to reflect on the unique challenges presented to a “super-corporate” in delivering crisis management and crisis leadership at the top.

Naturally, one of the greatest challenges is in the management and transfer of information about the crisis.  Quite rightly, it is filtered as it percolates up to senior leadership levels but any CEO worth his salt wants to get a feel for the reality “on the ground” and a true sense of what is happening.  This is difficult to achieve from a report which has gone through several levels of review, filter and reduction and which may be given by another executive who is also not on the ground.

So a challenge is presented, not least because any CEO appearing in front of the world’s media is going to want – and need – to be armed not only with his facts and key messages but also to be able to demonstrate he genuinely knows and feels what it is like for those right at the heart of the crisis.  Empathy is a difficult thing to achieve when you have only been presented with the “strategic issues” in a rather colourless fashion.  Yet in crisis communications, it is something the media and public are looking for and can be so judgmental about.  Continue reading

Crisis Decision Making: How wicked pressures create decision avoidance

By Claudia van den Heuvel

Strategic level decision makers often assume they will be able to manage a crisis well, purely because they make “difficult and risky decisions” every day. In theory, crisis decision-making should follow the standard decision process of: assess the situation, formulate various options or strategies and implement a choice. Often however, this doesn’t happen. Continue reading

Documents documents everywhere but not a plan in sight

By Katie Collison

Sitting observing crisis management exercises can be a frustrating business. In preparation I’ve read the procedures, I know what the team roles and responsibilities should be, understood how the team should operate, and seen the supporting tools and templates that should add structure to the response. What should happen and what often does happen are two very different things. On paper the response should be efficient, structured, proactive. The reality is rather more chaotic, haphazard, and reactive. Continue reading

The need for crisis preparedness training – thoughts from the Counter Terror Expo

By Claudia van den Heuvel

Having just returned from the Counter-Terror Expo in Olympia at the end of April, the theme that struck a chord with me repeatedly was, no matter how technologically advanced our surveillance and security systems are, true resilience and crisis preparedness will always lie within the skill-set of the crisis management team.

In a very interesting talk on human factors, Sally Turner and Julia Wilde of “User Perspective” illustrated the effect that human biases can have on the effectiveness of security surveillance. While technological ability is constantly being improved, I wonder if training of non-technical skills for performance under pressure, is given the same priority and developing at a similar pace? Continue reading

The Crisis Press Conference: How? – planning and execution

By Andy Cuerel

Last month we considered the ‘why and when’ of crisis press conferences – this week we consider the ‘how’.

Assuming your organisation has met the criteria for holding a crisis press conference what happens next? You will often only have a short timeframe to plan and execute the conference and there are a number of things to consider, whether logistically – physical environment, equipment etc, and delivery i.e. rules of engagement for speakers and facilitators. Continue reading